U.S. Presidential IQ hoax
The hoax email showed Bill Clinton having the highest IQ (182) and George W. Bush the lowest (91). However, the numbers claimed in the email were fabricated, and the sociologists and institutions (e.g., the "Lovenstein Institute") quoted in the article do not exist (a "Lovenstein Institute" website displays the "report", but it was created after the report's release). The techniques purportedly used to measure IQ of the presidents are not recognized means of measuring IQs. The hoax also contains other factual errors. When the hoax was debunked, it appeared to be a personal attack on Bush because of its timing and its listing Bush's IQ as exactly half that of Clinton's.
Reports about the hoax
Perhaps because the perception of George W. Bush having low intelligence was claimed by some political pundits as well as by politicians, including a spokesperson for Tony Blair, the hoax report was assumed by some to be true. The British newspaper The Guardian, for example, quoted the report in its diary section of July 19, 2001 and used it to belittle Bush, although the paper published a retraction two days after the Associated Press drew attention to the error. Other media outlets to fall for the hoax included Bild (Germany), Pravda (Russia), and the Southland Times (New Zealand) as well as a few U.S. newspapers. The hoax came back to life in March 2007 in Spanish-language media when the Press Agency EFE distributed a piece referring to it. Dozens of media (primarily in their online versions) reproduced EFE's text. Among newspapers publishing the hoax were El País (Spain's leading newspaper), ABC, La Vanguardia, and El Mercurio (Chile's leading newspaper).
IQ estimations by academics
In 2001 political psychologist Aubrey Immelman made an IQ estimation of G. W. Bush based on the SAT Reasoning Test results of Bush (1206) and Al Gore, who achieved IQ scores of 133 and 134 in his school years: "It's tempting to employ Al Gore's IQ:SAT ratio of 134:1355 as a formula for estimating Bush's probable intelligence quotient — an exercise in fuzzy statistics that predicts a score of 119."
A 2006 study analyzing presidential IQs by Dean Keith Simonton of U.C. Davis appeared in the journal Political Psychology. Simonton's study analyzed the results of varied and often subjective historical material using the tools of historiometry. It estimated IQs for all US presidents, and validated the headline of the hoax, which stated Bush's was the lowest of any president in the last 50 years, though it estimates his IQ considerably higher (by more than two standard deviations) than the 91 suggested in the hoax report. It rated G.W. Bush second to last since 1900, with an estimated IQ of 125 (the estimates ranged from 111 to 139). Bush's estimated IQ was only higher than those estimated for Grant (120), Monroe (124), and Harding (124). The same study estimated president Bill Clinton's IQ at 149, behind only those of Kennedy (151), Jefferson (154) and John Quincy Adams (169).
Simonton's 2006 study follows earlier studies done on this subject, including a 1926 study by Catharine Cox Miles. This study concluded that there is a statistically significant correlation of 0.56 between a U.S. President's IQ and his perceived amount of success. It is worth noting that other sources and/or studies might have different results for the IQs of United States Presidents. For instance, John F. Kennedy's IQ has also been estimated to have been significantly lower than in this 2006 study (Chester Arthur biographer Thomas C. Reeves refers to an actual IQ test by Kennedy with a score of 119), while Richard Nixon's IQ has also been estimated to have been significantly higher than in this study.
Here are the full results of the 2006 Simonton study, with some U.S. Presidential IQ estimates from other sources as well (average: 147 IQ points):
|The factual accuracy of part of this article is disputed. The dispute is about the inclusion of a table presenting information mainly from a single primary source, which analyses indirect evidence without providing evidence that the method used matches scores obtained by direct assessment on any test set. (May 2014)|
|Name||Political Party||Lifespan||Time in Office||IQ (corrected for data reliability, ages 18-26)||Other IQ Estimates|
|John Quincy Adams||Democratic-Republican||1767–1848||1825–1829||175|
|Martin van Buren||Democratic||1782–1862||1837–1841||139.5|
|William Henry Harrison||Whig||1773–1841||1841||146.3|
|Andrew Johnson||National Union/Democratic||1808–1875||1865–1869||139.8|
|Grover Cleveland||Democratic||1837–1908||1885–1889, 1893–1897||144|
|William Howard Taft||Republican||1857–1930||1909–1913||139.5|
|John F. Kennedy||Democratic||1917–1963||1961–1963||159.8||119|
|George H. W. Bush||Republican||1924–present||1989–1993||143|
|George W. Bush||Republican||1946–present||2001–2009||138.5||78.9|
- Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Browser Usage, another IQ-related Internet hoax, this time claiming low IQs for users of Internet Explorer 6.
- "President Bush Has Lowest IQ of all Presidents of past 50 Years". snopes.com. 2004-07-15. Retrieved 2006-09-11.
- "The Lovenstein Institute - Scranton, PA". Lovenstein.org. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- Baker, Peter (2006-08-20). "Pundits Renounce The President". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-09-11.
- Walters, Simon (2006-08-19). "Blair 'feels betrayed by Bush on Lebanon'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2006-09-11.
- Matthew Norman (2001-07-19). "Diary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2006-10-23.
- Matthew Norman (2001-08-16). "Diary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2006-10-23.
- ElPais.com (2007-03-13). "Diary". El País. Retrieved 2007-03-13.
- Aubrey Immelman: Bush gets bad rap on intelligence. In: St. Cloud Times. January 14, 2001
- Dean Keith Simonton (August 2006). "Presidential IQ, Openness, Intellectual Brilliance, and Leadership: Estimates and Correlations for 42 U.S. Chief Executives" (PDF). Political Psychology 27 (4): 511–526. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9221.2006.00524.x. Retrieved 2006-09-11.
- "How Smart Does a President Have to Be? | Britannica Blog". Britannica.com. 2013-09-06. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- Thomas C. Reeves: Presidential IQ. In: History News Network. November 5, 2006
- Cecil Adams (2001-06-22). "Who was the stupidest U.S. president?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- "The President's daily decision, how Gotti got to the top, homicidal honchos, and other matters. THE MOST IMPORTANT STAT - July 15, 1991". Money.cnn.com. 1991-07-15. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- A copy of this hoax at Snopes.com
- Simonton's Political Psychology paper analyzing United States Presidential IQs
- C-SPAN Washington Journal interview with Barbara Mikkelson of Snopes about the Presidential IQ Hoax, Nov. 21, 2003